What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Labor + Delivery

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in sunny California. The football game is on, homemade carnitas are in the crockpot, and my newborn is sleeping peacefully. That may sound blissful, but oh my goodness, let me tell you…being pregnant, packing a hospital bag, giving birth, recovering from birth, and having a newborn baby to take care of is tough, it’s tiring, and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

THE NEWS

If you haven’t heard the news yet, I just had my first baby. A chunky baby girl with a cabbage-patch-doll face and thick black hair. I’m sitting here in my well-loved rocking chair, watching over her while she sleeps and listening to my husband shouting at the television. Football fans can be so dramatic.

I’m learning that motherhood is a wild ride. Emma is just about four months old and we are starting to find our new normal. Before it all becomes a distant memory, I wanted to share some of the things that I found useful during my hospital stay.

I’ve always been a simple girl, and as it turns out, I’m also a simple mother. I wanted to be prepared for my hospital stay, but I didn’t want to haul a bunch of heavy luggage with me either. My motto typically works in every circumstance, including this one: keep it simple. It’s cliché, I know, but it makes life so much more pleasant! I packed what I considered to be a simple hospital bag, and even so, I probably didn’t need all of what was in there.

Now that it’s all said and done, I’ll share my experience, what I brought in my hospital bag, and what I used.

THE BACK STORY

My pregnancy was relatively easy, aside from your basic first-time-mom fears and the heartburn. I had energy, I embraced my changing body, and I worked until I went into labor. I evaded stretch marks and cravings and mood swings and Braxton Hicks. Never felt an ounce of pain or discomfort until the moment I went into labor.

I was five days past my estimated due date, and my husband and I were headed to the airport to pick up my sister so that she could meet the new baby when she arrived. We hopped on the freeway and right then, my first contraction struck. And, oh my dear Lord, was that painful! First contraction I ever felt, and it took my breath away. I instantly grabbed my husband’s hand and told him it was time to go. The baby was coming.

We headed back to the house so that we could grab our hospital bag and inform my mother-in-law that we were heading out. My husband was a nervous wreck and she offered to ride along with us to help him stay calm. I love you, Maria. You are an absolute saint. We got to the hospital and by the time the triage nurse checked me, we were already halfway there, five centimeters dilated.

THE LABOR AND DELIVERY

My father-in-law went to the airport to collect my sister, and they all came straight to the hospital from there. It was a painful but uneventful twelve-hour labor from beginning to end, and just like that, she was here. The hairiest little ball of pink mush I had ever seen!

No episiotomy, no delivery complications. Just a healthy baby girl with a head full of thick, black wavy hair. After our 24-hour review, the doctor decided that her severe case of jaundice was reason to stay put under the glow lights for a few days.

We spent a total of three days in the hospital. We had our hearts set on exclusive breastfeeding, so my hospital bag is definitely what you’d call “nursing-friendly”. Before I get into my list of necessities from my hospital bag, I’ll just let you know that your hospital likely provides all the important recovery stuff that you will need during your stay. The pads, the pain reliever, the big mesh undies. They provide it all, and they know what they’re doing. So let them help you and make sure to use up whatever they give you. You’re being charged for it any way, and it just makes the whole recovery experience so much easier.

I seriously stayed in my hospital gown for most of my time there, and let me tell you right now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It isn’t an itchy paper gown, it’s a comfy cotton gown that has the perfect slits for breastfeeding. I highly recommend it. There will be blood, and discomfort, and struggles as your newborn learns to latch (if you plan to breastfeed). No shame in that hospital-gown game.

Again, I’m a simple girl and I only wanted to bring absolute necessities in my hospital bag. So here is the list of everything I brought with me for labor and delivery. I’ve linked up some of the essential items that you might not have at home, so you can order them on Amazon, have everything delivered right to your door, and have your bags packed before baby arrives. You’re welcome 😉

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the full disclosure here.

THE HOSPITAL CHECKLIST

  1. Black duffle bag – comes in 26 color options
  2. Toiletry travel bag + travel bottles
  3. Nursing tank top or your favorite built-in-bra top – for the trip home
  4. Nursing bra – for extra support
  5. Black yoga pants – I brought one pair, but it wouldn’t hurt to have two
  6. Comfy cotton undies – bring two pairs, just to be safe
  7. Zip-up sweater or cardigan wrap – I brought a zip-up hoodie for breastfeeding
  8. Sandals or comfy slippers – for the trip home
  9. Hair brush + hair ties – I personally use this wide-tooth comb for my curly hair
  10. Conditioner + body lotion – my hospital only provided shampoo and body wash
  11. Travel toothbrush + toothpaste – my hospital provided these, but I prefer my own
  12. Deodorant – bring some for mom and dad, unless he wants to smell like flowers
  13. Gym shorts + t-shirt for dad – or another comfy outfit of his choice
  14. Phone + charger – or any other electronics you plan to use
  15. Newborn take-home outfit for baby – or special outfits for photography session
  16. Large swaddle blanket – for the trip home
  17. Binkies for baby – we actually did use these on the trip home
  18. Soft tissues or Kleenex – the hospital tissue was like sand paper
  19. Lip balm – your lips will be insanely dry and you will need lip balm
  20. Small makeup bag with the basics (moisturizer, concealer, blush, mascara)

These 20 items are the only things that I brought with me, and I can honestly say that I probably used everything at least once. I am glad that I brought my makeup, because I definitely felt like showering and fixing myself up a bit for our visitors and a few candid pictures. That isn’t important to everyone, so just bring whatever suits your personality and your plans.

THE FINAL THOUGHTS

Your personal preferences and your list will vary a little bit, depending on the experience that you want and the type of delivery you have. Most of the time, I was content in my hospital gown with my hair wrapped up in a ponytail. But that’s me! Bring a few things that make you feel comfortable and happy, and be sure to bring a clean outfit and some entertainment for your hubby too.

Also, check with your hospital about what they provide so that you can be prepared. My hospital provided all of the fun/gross recovery stuff than I needed, and I’m sure yours will too. My dirty little secret: I asked for extra perineal cold packs and the pain relieving Dermoplast spray to take home, and thankfully, I didn’t have to buy anymore for my recovery period. If they don’t send any home with you, stop at a local pharmacy and grab some (they’ll most likely be in the feminine product section, and they’re life saving products)!

Recovery was smooth and relatively easy, which I’m so thankful for. My baby girl is thriving and we’re finding our happy balance at home. I hope that you found this list helpful in preparing your own hospital bag and making your big day as easy as possible.

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I wish you all the best of health, happiness, and blissful days with your newborn baby! You can grab my hospital checklist here (no email address required)!

hospital bag labor delivery

 

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